World Olympians To Open Americas Office In Biltmore Hotel
By Paola Iuspa
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The World Olympians Association plans a formal opening of a regional office in Coral Gables now that the city has contributed money toward rent and the state has provided two administrators.
Although the group has been operating since Jan. 10, Jose Humberto Rodriguez, the regional managing director, said the opening is scheduled for Feb. 15 in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave.
The six-year-old association, based in Switzerland, was created to assist former Olympians and develop programs involving its members and the community. The Coral Gables office will design educational programs for all of the Americas, arrange the exchange of athletic programs and coaches and hold local events to promote the Olympics, Mr. Rodriguez said.
He said establishing the office in South Florida was possible thanks to the City of Coral Gables, which donated $25,000 to help lease a 986-square-foot office; hotel management, which lowered the rental fee; and the state for paying about $15 an hour to two full-time administrators to help coordinate activities, he said.
Coral Gables Commissioner Maria Anderson said commissioners welcome having the group in their city.
"They came to us looking for a place to settle their Latin America office," she said. "They asked us for space. We gave directions to the city manager in January to arrange space for them. Olympians represent sportsmanship, courage and teamwork. Those are the values we like to have in our community."
Mr. Rodriguez said high on the priority list is to contact local former Olympians, with about 100,000 worldwide, to have them go to schools to talk to children about discipline and success.
"The values you apply to success in a sports are the same anyone needs to succeed in school and business," he said.
He said the four-person office plans to bring Olympians from throughout the Americas to Coral Gables for an annual event, yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, he and Jim Haley, regional office director and former pentathlon Olympian from Florida, will go Feb. 22 to Salt Lake City’s Winter Games to promote the new US office in Coral Gables.
The association also opened an Asian regional office two months ago in Osaka, Japan.